- Historic Sites
When Perry Unlocked The “Gate of the Sun”
Japan’s feudal, shut-in history suddenly came to an end when the bluff American commodore dropped anchor in Tokyo Bay
April 1958 | Volume 9, Issue 3
The final upshot was this, as expressed in Article One of the Treaty of Kanagawa [March 31, 1854]: “There shall be a perfect, permanent and universal peace, and a sincere and cordial amity, between the United States of America on the one part, and the Empire of Japan on the other, and between their people, respectively, without exception of persons or places.”
As later generations learned to their regret, this article was not always to be observed. But while Perry in opening Japan may also have opened Pandora’s box, who could then tell what might someday spring forth from it? The Commodore sailed home, proud, revered even in Japan by literate subjects who had come to think it was high time their country was opened up, his holds filled with their gifts and souvenirs, to receive the homage of his fellow citizens as if he had won another war. He had in fact done just that—a war against ignorance and ingrown backwardness—and he had won it without firing a shot.